The ‘shipwreck hunter’ spearheading the search for the missing plane carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson is ‘a little bit concerned’ the wreckage may not be recovered. David Mearns has been leading the privately-funded search for the Piper Malibu N264DB, which went missing over the Channel Islands two weeks ago as…
The ‘shipwreck hunter’ spearheading the search for the missing plane carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson is ‘a little bit concerned’ the wreckage may not be recovered.
David Mearns has been leading the privately-funded search for the Piper Malibu N264DB, which went missing over the Channel Islands two weeks ago as Sala travelled to Cardiff following hisclub-record transfer to the Premier League side.
American-born Mr Mearns is a marine scientist and oceanographer who is famous for finding the wreckage of HMS Hood, the UK battleship sunk by Germany’s Bismarck during World War Two.
His company, Blue Water Recoveries, has made significant discoveries around the world, and thewreckage of the Piper Malibu was discoveredshortly after Mr Mearns’ search began.
An image was released of the wreckage, which displayed part of the aircraft’s registration, while a body was also visible in footage captured by the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) sent to the seabed, a statement confirmed.
Mr Mearns has since spoken to talkSPORT to discuss the recovery of the wreckage and the body which were found exactly a fortnight after the aircraft went missing.
However, he admitted concern that the authorities, including the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), may not invest what is required for a recovery expedition.
“I am a little bit concerned [a recovery won’t take place],” Mr Mearns says, “because they didn’t move immediately to conduct the search.
“We did, and then they followed.
“I understand their priorities are a little bit different to the families’ [priorities], but I don’t think they can rest now.
“I don’t speak for the AAIB and I don’t want to sound like anything I’m saying is criticising them, because it’s not my place to do that.
“They are out there working right now, and the families are grateful for that.”
Mr Mearns revealed Sala’s family have requested the wreckage be recovered, as they hope an investigation can take place to discover the cause of the crash.
“I just think it’s even more imperative that the plane and the body are recovered,” Mr Mearns continues.
“I know that’s exactly what the Sala family want – they communicated that to me last night.
“They are desperate to see that the plane is recovered so they can conduct a forensic examination to discover what caused the crash, and all the more now that there is a body.
“That was essentially the best possible hope we could provide for either of the families once it was determined the plane had crashed and both passengers had deceased.
“What if that crash had happened on land… in a field? Wouldn’t the AAIB come along and haul it away and conduct a forensic examination, and recover the body for a coroner’s inquest and all those things – and for a burial?
“What’s the difference?”
Mr Mearns also confirmed the body which was visible in footage of the wreckage has not yet been identified as either Sala or Ibbotson, the pilot.
“From my understanding that has not been determined. It [the body[ is unidentified.”
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